lately, i’ve been experiencing a little personal unrest. vacillating between being comfortable with sharing this with all of you (all probably 10 of you) and, well, not being comfortable with sharing this with all of you. but sometimes you’re supposed to “write hard and clear about what hurts.” at least that’s what ernest hemingway (and kendi of kendieveryday) said. and i tend to trust them both. so here goes nothing.
as you may or may not know, following an eye-opening juice cleanse back in may, i decided to try the paleo lifestyle on for size. if only for the fact that it heavily encourages the regular consumption of bacon…
just kidding, i really did it to take control of my erratic and unhealthy eating habits and to adopt a more structured, whole-food-based way of life. and at almost the two-month mark of incorporating meat and healthy fats back into my life, i’m feeling pretty darn good. but that isn’t to say that this 60-day journey hasn’t come without reflection (and a really hefty trader joe’s bill). in fact, it’s time i let you in on a little dark secret.
you see, about a year ago, i started dating someone (we’re no longer together in case you have a tall, employed, funny and jesus-loving nephew you’d like to set me up with, i mean, hypothetically). and while people tend to gain weight while enjoying the first days of a new romance, i did the opposite. i lost some (i think making out burns a ton of calories or something). and i’m not sure if you’ve ever lost a little weight, but the initial compliments you receive upon shedding said pounds are slightly intoxicating. and for a words-of-affirmation recovered anorexic, those accolades held even more weight (no pun intended). so i relished in my new-found slimmer self and did my best to keep up her skeletal physique until i had half given-up eating altogether. the crazy thing was, i was totally thin to begin with.
anyway, by last summer, in order to maintain my size, i’d nearly go the entire day without eating, masking my hunger with caffeine and sugarless gum until the evening hours where i would tear through a bushel of steamed veggies, half a bottle of ketchup and a boca burger. if you ever dined with me after a pure barre workout, you may have noticed that i’d inhale my meal leaving not so much as a piece of parsley in my path. well, now you know the reason for that crazed consumption. it wasn’t that i was just hungry, i was ravenous. and that was my life, every single day for the past 365. i mean, in some form or fashion. skip meals here, binge there, over-exercise, under-eat, wash, rinse, repeat.
what had begun as an accident (i never sought to lose those pounds) had become a force so much greater than myself. over the course of a year, it manifested itself into a security blanket of sorts. a security blanket i was so fearful of giving up. in a world that seemed to be constantly changing (break-ups, and more break-ups, and engagements and weddings and babies, oh my!), my eating and my body became my constant. the one thing i could count on amidst the chaos.
and while it may have appeared on the outside (maybe i’m a better actress than i thought?) that i was happy and content, inside i was exhausted. i mean outside i was exhausted, too. but the bigger exhaustion was living with a dirty little secret i was too embarrassed to share. the seemingly always put-together girl was anything but put-together. in the quiet of her room and in the confines of her mind, she was all but falling apart.
so when i turned to paleo, i made the conscious decision to break the cycle. to be more mindful of what i put into my body and how i approached eating overall. and while i may think my body is invincible now, it’s not always going to be this way. to quote russell crowe in gladiator, “what we do now echoes in eternity.” the decisions i have been making and will continue to make in terms of how i treat my body will, in fact, come back to haunt me years later. there will be repercussions for the abuse. and for someone who wants nothing more than to have a body healthy enough to (hopefully) support carrying a child someday, the idea of doing irreversible damage was scarier than finally surrendering control of the pattern of distorted eating that i had cultivated for so long.
but i’d be lying if there weren’t days when i look at my reflection in the mirror unsure of the woman staring back at me. days when i try on clothes and they fit a bit more snuggly than they once did. and the temptation to return to my unhealthy ways begins to creep back in. but before i allow those destructive thoughts to arouse from their quiet slumber and wreak havoc on my psyche, i pause to replace these lies with truth. i am healthy. i am strong. my muscles now have shape and definition. my hair, skin, and nails are growing/glowing! (and at a rapid rate, too). i’m less irritable and tired and i can perform the exercises in any given pure barre class with more precision and duration than ever before. and most importantly, there’s a light in my eyes again, a renewed spirit that seemed to have been misplaced for a little while.
so this is where i’m at. learning to love food again. trying new recipes and making the kitchen a safe and happy place to be. and thanks to paleo, the transition has been pretty seamless. i realize that these dark thoughts and feelings will always be a part of me, like a scar, they remind me of where i’ve been. but the way i approach them moving forward is my choice and my choice alone. i can continue to play victim to them, or i can break the cycle.
and today, i choose health.